Print This Page Print

Chef Box Series: Garlic Noodles with Soft Shell Crab

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Difficulty: Moderate

The garlic butter is what brings this dish together, and you get to make it yourself. It's a lot of butter for one dish, but at Nightshade they like to be very generous with it. Feel free to half the butter recipe, or save the extra for use on other dishes. The butter will keep for a month in your refrigerator and would be a great addition to other pasta and vegetable dishes or melted over a piece of fish.   


Soft shell crabs get quartered and pan-fried to elevate your noodles and provide a crunchy bite. Finish the dish with fresh dill and optional toppings like fennel pollen and chili crisp to your taste. 




For the Butter

  • 2 pounds (8 sticks) room temperature butter (European preferred)
  • 1 pound pre-peeled garlic cloves
  • canola oil, for cooking the garlic
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons preserved lemon (or to taste)

For the Crab

  • 2 soft shell crabs
  • Oil, for frying
  • Coconut milk, 1 can (12oz.)
  • Flour, for dredging (either all purpose, or panko)
  • Salt, to taste

For the Noodles

  • 1 pound pasta (spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair)
  • water, for cooking pasta

To Serve

  • Fried garlic
  • Fresh dill
  • Fennel pollen (we like Curio Spice brand)
  • Chili crisp, optional


The Butter


The butter can be made ahead and lasts in the fridge for about a month.


Cook garlic cloves in a sauce pot with enough canola oil to just cover them over medium-low heat until golden brown. Do not boil, and pull off the heat just as they start to turn golden brown as they will continue to cook a bit more on their own.


Combine butter and garlic mixture in a food processor. Process until smooth.


Add salt, lime juice, preserved lemon & fish sauce to taste. Keep at room temperature for use.

The Crab


Defrost the crabs in the refrigerator as instructed. When you’re ready to cook, take them out of the package and let them come up to room temperature.


Make sure the gills, face and flap are completely removed. (see our tip video at With cooking shears or scissors, cut each crab into 4 pieces: directly down the center and then horizontally between the second and third legs.


Dip into coconut milk (buttermilk is fine too) and then into dry flour. Pan-fry in shallow oil until crispy. This may pop, so be careful!


When the crabs are lightly golden and crispy, remove from the oil and lay them on a tray or plate lined with paper towels to drain. Salt the crabs on both sides.

The Noodles


Cook pasta to package instructions. When noodles are freshly cooked and still hot, toss with the room temperature garlic butter until saucy. Use some of the pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce if needed.

To Serve


Arrange the pieces of crispy soft shell crab over the garlic noodles and garnish with fried garlic, dill, and fennel pollen to your liking!